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Cemetery in Forest Sanctuary
Credit & Copyright: Dr. Bruce G.
Explanation: This week we are on the hunt for spirits of the forest.
Many cultures around the world set aside tracts of forests for graveyards, cemeteries, and special resting places for ancestors. This week we take a short tour of such selected spots around the world.
But first, what are the ecological -- and cultural -- implications of such sites?
One obvious factor is that they serve to preserve at least small groves of native or primary forest which can provide habitat for some wildlife, including many rare and endemic species of plants. We explored this relationship in a previous EPOW.
In some cultures, sacred groves or spirit groves are to be preserved to harbor the souls of those who passed on. Often, such forest reserves provide habitat for creatures of the night such as bats and owls ... especially the owls, whose sombrous songs can be interpreted as the wails or calls of the spirits of the dead. Protecting forest groves thereby also provides some habitat for wildlife -- and thus providing both cultural and ecological benefits.
Let's take a look at some examples around the world:
This week's main photo is of a cemetery in the Russian Far East along the coast of the Sea of Japan. The area also is a forest research field station which benefits from its protection and holds prime examples of woodlands of Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica), Dahurian birch (Betula davurica), Manshurian birch (Betula manshurica), Chinese aspen (Populus davidiana), alder (Alnus crispa ssp. maximowiczii), and other plants. In this grove I encountered Eurasian cuckoo, Oriental cuckoo, Oriental greenfinch, great tit, and other birds.
cultures, too, preserve old trees and forest groves for spiritual purposes.
Next week's picture: The Largest Bovine in the World
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Bruce G. Marcot, Tom Bruce
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